Most animals sleep. All mammals (including human beings), birds, even fish and reptiles spend periods asleep. According to the medical dictionary: sleep is a physiologic state of relative unconsciousness and inaction of the voluntary muscles, the need for which recurs periodically. This means that every day our bodies need to sleep, it is during this time and our bodies are repairing injuries, growing and producing new bone, muscle and nerve tissue. New research is also showing that sleep is required for new learning to become “memorized” by our brains.
The amount of time our bodies need to sleep varies with age – babies sleep up to 18 hours per day while most adults should average 7 to 8 hours. When our sleep is disrupted, whether by lifestyle (not going to bed on time) or by a sleep disorder, it places severe stress upon the body. Sleep deprivation affects millions of people globally and can eventually lead to: memory problems, obesity, increased risk of certain diseases such as diabetes, headaches or migraine, mood and attention problems, slower healing and even heart disease.
Sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea cause the sleeper to stop breathing for 10 seconds or more during sleep. This occurs many times each night and is caused by the soft tissues of the tongue and throat relaxing, collapsing and blocking the airway during sleep. The sleeper lacks deep, healing sleep because of constant awakening during the night to fight for breath. Sleep apnea sufferers do not realize this is happening – they only realize they are not rested in the morning and experience severe sleepiness during the day. Loud snoring is common in sleep apnea patients.
If you wake feeling exhausted or suffer from extreme sleepiness during the day you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. As a dental sleep medicine specialist in Columbus, Ohio my team and I can work with your physician to treat your obstructive sleep apnea with an oral appliance that allows you to breath easily during sleep. Please contact my office today at 614-476-6696 to schedule a sleep disorder consultation. A restful, restorative night’s sleep is possible with oral appliance therapy.